By Jonathan E. Baker and Donna Lee Baker*
Have you ever made plans thinking you were going in the direction God wanted you to go and then, suddenly, challenges surfaced and you wondered if you were really doing what God wanted? This has happened to us so many times with the Cataract Surgery Mission that we’ve had planned now for several years. It seems like our plan was quite different from God’s plan.
Our plan was for the mission to take place in July 2016, but the political situation in Congo prohibited getting Visas for the medical team coming from the United States. We truly struggled with postponing that mission because people had already traveled hundreds of kilometers, many of them blind, to participate! The medications took many months to arrive by boat—after the proposed date for the 2016 mission!
Patients from the 2014 clinic in recovery. Patients sometimes travel many miles to get to the eye surgery clinics. PHOTO: COURTESY THE BAKERS
So, we scheduled the Cataract Mission for July 2017, believing this was now God’s plan. But then, many factors led the US mission team to again decide that they could not travel to Congo in 2017 either! Okay, Lord! Now what?
Yet, we kept hearing God say, “move forward.” We knew that within the Congo there are people who possess both the skills and professionalism to conduct the mission without clinicians from another country. But would we have sufficient staffing? Could we afford to provide compensation for the staff and tackle the travel and logistical challenges?
A quick phone call to the Ophthalmology director at St. Joseph’s University Hospital in Kinshasa, which specializes in ophthalmology, resulted in an appointment for the following day! Not only did we meet a surgeon who specializes in pediatric ophthalmology who was eager to join a mission team, the director agreed to provide an additional surgeon, an anesthetist, and whatever medical equipment and medications the clinic would need! We believe this is God’s way of helping us turn over this mission and the future of providing eye care in Congo to the Congolese people. That has been our goal and now God is opening new doors to help this happen.
In 2014, when this photo was taken, US eye doctors volunteered for service in the DRC. But this year, Congolese doctors will fill the need for eye surgeons in the clinics. PHOTO: COURTESY THE BAKERS
Together, we are the Body of Christ! The next time you face a challenge, we hope our story will remind you that, through Christ, our difficulties are transformed into blessings.
*Jonathan E. Baker and Donna Lee Baker are Global Ministries missionaries serving
in collaboration with the Peter D. Weaver Congo Partnership, which extends
throughout the Central Congo Episcopal Area of Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC)—Jonathan as the mission coordinator for the partnership and Donna as
a Global Health Nurse in Mission. The partnership is a mission collaboration of
the Central Congo Episcopal Area and a network of annual conferences in the
Copyright New World Outlook magazine, Spring 2017 issue. Used by permission. Email the New World Outlook editor for more information.